Cleve Backster, R.I.P.

Grover Cleveland Backster, Jr. (1924-2013)
Grover Cleveland Backster, Jr. (1924-2013)

Grover Cleveland “Cleve” Backster, Jr., a leading figure in the field of polygraphy, died on 1 July 2013 according to the American Association of Police Polygraphists, which has posted an obituary (PDF). He was 89 years old.

Backster is the reputed founder of the CIA’s polygraph program and in 1959 founded the oldest private polygraph school still in existence, the Backster School of Lie Detection. Circa 1960, he developed a numerical approach to scoring polygraph charts that has been widely adopted by the polygraph community as well as the Zone Comparison Technique, variations of which are still commonly used and taught at polygraph schools including the U.S. government’s National Center for Credibility Assessment.

In the 1960s, Backster gained media attention for his claims, based on measurements made with a polygraph instrument, that plants can perceive human thoughts and intentions. Scientists have been unsuccessful in duplicating Backster’s results in controlled experiments.

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